The Terror from Beyond Springfield

This October, The Simpsons offers a double venture outside canon, with a pair of Halloween episodes. First up was last night ‘s terrific extended parody, “Treehouse of Horror Presents: Not It.”

Set in a Maine alternative to Springfield called Kingfield (“A Great Place to Bury Your Kids,” according to the town’s welcome sign), “Not It” has some fun and games with Stephen King’s epic horror novel It and the recent two-part film adaptation thereof. Various signature moments from the book and movies are Simpsons-ized: the iconic sewer-scene opening (toothy child-predator Krusto–a frightfully recast Krusty–takes young Barney Gumble’s sailboat and then the wind permanently out of the boy); the rock fight (in which “Super-Intense-Kid Chalmers” plays one of the bullies); the bathroom terrorizing (Loser Club member Marge has hers flooded by Krusto–not with blood, but seltzer). King fans will absolutely revel in these skewed, and often skewering, references.

Besides the gleeful grotesquerie (e.g. one of Krusto’s  victims has his intestines tied into balloon animals) expected of a “Treehouse” installment, the episode is stuffed with puns both verbal (grown-up Homer owns a tavern named “D’ohs”) and visual (the Maine town sports a “Lobster Lad” and the “Kingfield Chowder Plant”), with hilarious one-liners (“Bleach your mustache,” young Marge’s sister advises. “You look like El DeBarge.”) and witty self-satire (canonical Krusty’s career as a hack comedian is cleverly woven into the killer Krusto’s modus operandi). The extraterrestrial origin of King’s supermonster also facilitates a wonderful variation on the Kang and Kodos cameo that typically concludes a “Treehouse” episode.

Without a doubt, “Not It” is my favorite bit of viewing so far this Halloween season. The traditional “Treehouse of Horror” episode next Sunday is going to be hard pressed to surpass such horror-parodying excellence.

 

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